Johannesburg - South Africa's Jewish Board of Deputies has hit back at criticism over Israel's decision to ban activists and organisations aligned to the Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against that country.
Last Thursday, the African National Congress (ANC) in the Western Cape (WC) warned the Israeli government that its recent blacklisting of those who support the BDS movement has only served to encourage the ANC’s support for the Palestinian struggle and the boycott against the Jewish state.
A list released by the Israeli government, said those cited will not be allowed entry to Israel-Palestine over their support for BDS – an international movement that seeks to pressure Israel to cease its illegal occupation of Palestinian land and its abuse of Palestinians, similar to the international boycott against apartheid South Africa.
The ANC in the province said the Israeli government list singles out BDS South Africa, an organisation of South African citizens, many of whom are ANC members and said the move amounted to "thuggery and attempt to infringe on our freedom to stand against the government of Israel's violation of international law is affirmation that they are a rogue regime".
However, on Monday, the SAJBD hit back at what it said was the provincial ANC's assertion that "Israel's BDS attack is an attack on South Africans".
"We can agree or disagree whether a sovereign country has a right to determine their policies of admission, but to contend that Israel’s decision not to welcome BDS activists into their borders is 'an attack on South Africans' is an ironic inversion of reality," Wendy Kahn, national director of the SAJBD, said.
"If there is a move that has attacked South African's rights in the past month, it has been the ANC's call to downgrade the South African Embassy in Tel Aviv. This is a true call to violate the rights of South African citizens. This will seriously impact on the religious practice of Jewish and many Christian communities in our country, restricting their access to pilgrimages, religious learning and access to items required for religious practice.
"It also infringes on our rights to have a meaningful connection to a country with religious, historical or cultural significance to the majority of the Jewish community and large number of Christians in our country."
The SAJBD further slammed the BDS movement which has been pushing for the downgrade, saying the "ANC's depiction of BDS SA as a 'peaceful human rights organisation' cannot be further from the truth".
"The ongoing antisemitic incidents at their protests and activities expose their hatred for Jewish South Africans in South Africa," the statement added.
"If anyone is attacking South Africans it is BDS SA and the ANC WC statement merely exposes their hypocrisy. It is time that they are concerned for all South Africans, not just the ones that confirm to their narrative on Israel."
African News Agency/ANA